China halts dog cull after international uproar

Thursday, 21 December, 2006
Yarmouth Port, MA
Thanks to thousands of letters from concerned animal lovers around the world, including from within China, the anti-dog crackdown in Beijing has been officially stopped. According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese President Hu Jintao “was unhappy about the complaints and international media coverage” of the crackdown and put a stop to it.
The crackdown started in Beijing at the end of October. In response IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - and other groups organized letter writing campaigns to various Beijing authorities (police department, mayor’s office, and Olympic Organizing Committee) as well as international bodies based outside of China (Chinese Embassies and International Olympic Committee). The mass of letters, which came from around the world, including one letter which was signed by 60,000 animal lovers from across China, created the pressure for the police to stop the crackdown. This announcement was confirmed to IFAW by the Beijing Police Bureau.
“IFAW applauds the decision by President Hu Jintao to stop the crackdown. It shows that the President understands the special bond people feel with their companion animals and that crackdowns targeting dogs is counterproductive to achieving societal harmony,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW Asia Director, who was invited to visit the police dog pound, “IFAW now hopes the Chinese government will take the next step and work on reforming Beijing’s dog regulations so that responsible dog ownership will be promoted and Beijing can welcome the 2008 Olympics with a humane regulation that is scientifically based.”
The Beijing crackdown involved confiscating dogs which were either unlicensed or over 35cm tall. IFAW has urged the police to return the owned dogs to their rightful homes, with penalties to irresponsible owners. In addition, IFAW has pledged to support Chinese authorities in introducing amendments to the Beijing Dog Regulation to make it more humane and realistic for dog owners to comply with. IFAW’s suggested changes include:
  • Eliminate the size limit of 35cm: The size limit has no scientific base. A dog’s temperament can not be judged by its size. The size limit also makes the regulation difficult to enforce. 
  • Regulate the behavior of people, not dogs. 
  • Regulate commercial breeding and markets: Uncontrolled breeding for trade is the main cause of the dog over population problem.

IFAW also urges the Chinese government to start promulgating national legislation for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

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